Mariano Vegel is the newly appointed Chef de Cuisine at Primo by Melissa Kelly, the resort’s farm-to-fork restaurant. Primo is located at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. Chef Vegel holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Argentine Institute of Gastronomy. Primo, the home-grown concept that Chef Kelly brought to Orlando almost 12 years ago, has two onsite gardens, sustainable practices and great chef/farmer relationships in Central Florida. She is a pioneer of the farm-to-fork movement in Orlando. Check out some of the pics we took at Primo:
The octopus was charred on the outside so it gave it a fragrant smokiness and was balanced out by the creaminess of the lima beans. The octopus was cooked to PERFECTION. The octopus was extremely tender which was impressive due to the temperamental nature of it's flesh when cooked.
One of my favorite dishes! The tuna was extremely fresh and the sauce with the confit tomatoes added just enough flavor without overpowering the light tuna. The sesame oil was a nice way to incorporate some Asian influence into the dish, and brought out the taste of the fish.
This salad is one of the restaurant's best sellers (regardless of the fact that it is a salad) and gives guests and insight into Primo's passion for the "farm-to-table experience". Everything that is used in the dish was farmed from their personal garden or raised from local farms. The egg, especially, was a food lover's dream. Soft-boiled to perfection, golden runny yolk, and paired with olive-oily garlicky croutons. Delicious!
This dish showcased Chef Kelly and Vegel's love for the sea and it's offerings. As a seafood lover myself, this was the "cream of the crop" type stuff. The pasta did all of the talking, as the squid ink showcased the taste of the sea and enhanced everything else in the dish. I don't mean to undermine any of the other sea creatures used in the dish, but once I heard the word "uni" I was done. There was so much savory umami I couldn't help but think this was my dish.
This was the vegetarian option for the pasta portion of the meal...and when they served it I wished for a moment that I wasn't a meat lover. I didn't try it, but the smell of porcini wafted through the air and then truffle hit my nose palate. Yes. Large, shaved slices of black truffle.
Throughout the whole experience I kept on hearing people whispering to each other, "When is the pork coming out? It's my favorite...". As soon as I got it I understood why! Compared to the other dishes this one seems extremely humble. It seems like just another pork dish with a savory dark jus on top...but it's not. It's so much more. No words. Just try it.
I'm pretty sure every woman in the room ran to this dish when it came out. This was the vegetarian option for the main course, and was decorated with edible flowers and beautifully pickled radishes.
Photos by Kristine Youngin.